|Game experience: AVERAGE
|A paradise for scavengers.
Well-adapted to big groups.
|Some puzzles requiring US-centered general knowledge.
The artificial theme.
The Great Escape Room is an escape game chain across the US that features many venues, from Florida to Michigan, Ohio or Illinois. Their website describes them as “a unique blend of traditional escape room and a challenging scavenger hunt”, so I was quite curious to try one of their game. I played Moriarty’s Gameroom on a weekday evening, joining a team of eight people (unless you buy all slots for the room, anyone can join your team). Sherlock Holmes’ archenemy, the infamous Professor Moriarty, has developed a brand new poison. We have now one hour to find his antidote in his laboratory.
The immersion is not the most appealing feature of the game. The room is decorated nicely enough (contrarily to other locations such as Orlando’s, if I believe the reviews I listed below), although nothing really stands out. The scenario is very simple, and nothing makes you feel immersed in a Sherlock Holmes vs. Moriarty story. Moreover, the gamemaster stays inside the room, which has some advantages (see below the part on gamemastering), but damages the immersion.
The puzzle structure is quite original: you will have to collect an incredible multitude of items, each with a colored sticker relating it to one of the five puzzles of the room. If you love to search for items, then you will have a blast in this room! As they say, this is as much a “scavenger hunt” as a traditional escape room. The puzzles themselves could have been better, as some of them curiously required some general knowledge for solving them (generally a no-no in the world of escape games). If the relevant facts were widely known by anyone, this could be OK, but they concern very US-centered popular culture / sport / history facts (which by the way do not fit with the Sherlock Holmes theme). So you will have a very hard time figuring them out if you’re not American – even if you’re American actually, as there were some pieces of information that none of the eight American people in my team did know. You can theoretically find some of the necessary information in the room, but in my opinion, this is not realistically doable. Also, the realization of some puzzles could be improved.
The gamemastering was not bad: staying inside the room, the gamemaster can direct you towards the part you forgot when you ask for a hint, and this system helps prevent safety issues that might arise during the game. I was impressed that the gamemaster would remember the items we had missed – there were so many to count!
It is a good thing that this venue enables open reservation, where other people can join the game, as there is really a lot to do; so even if you’re only a group of 2 or 3 players, you can join another team to play. I would recommend to be at the very least 5 or 6 players to play this game, and even the maximum of 10 people should be fine (our team of 8 beginners plus myself failed the game). There are not so many rooms that can accommodate such big groups while still remaining fun to play, so this is definitely a strong asset of this game. Overall, this was an interesting and polarizing experience, that some players will enjoy a lot, and others less so.
Game tested in July 2018 (Photos: Escape The World)